So I saw this question pop up on AskReddit the other day: ‘What film made you notice an actor was better or had greater range than you originally thought?’
Instantly I had a few thoughts.
Readers with slightly longer memories may remember that almost half a decade ago I suffered a moment of great psychological whiplash after going to the cinema to see the fantastic Hell or High Water. Now, I’d read Kristy’s equally fantastic review, and I knew I’d have a good time watching that film. Neo-Western? Capitalism critique? Jeff Bridges? That’s a lot of checks on this Czech’s checklist. What I wasn’t expecting was how much I’d be impressed by Chris Pine. Up until that point, I’d thought of him as just a charming enough, wonderfully large-headed (one of my people), pretty-boy son of the industry. Serviceable, but nowhere near capable of holding together a serious movie. Hell Or High Water grabbed my head and swirlied it in a toilet of my own preconceptions. I left the cinema seeing Pine in a completely different light. I never expected that level of gravitas, pathos, and hard-edged warmth from him.
I also thought—of course—of my boy Leo. A lad who I have a constantly evolving relationship with. One of the first pieces I ever wrote for Pajiba was an expression of bafflement at those who considered him a great actor. I just didn’t get it. I appreciated the man worked very hard for his roles, but I could never see anyone but Leo. The harder he tried to bury himself in a character, the more I saw the actor trying hard. Then Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood happened. And just like that, I got it. Or, I maintain: He got it. There was something about the role of Rick Dalton that brought out the best in Leo. Maybe it’s the more languid pace of the film overall, or the fact that the script really lets Leo flex his (tragi-)comedic muscles more. I still haven’t fully put my finger on it, but Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood definitely made me excited to see what this apparently new iteration of Leo DiCaprio could do in the future.
I’d be remiss addressing this topic without also mentioning Kaley Cuoco, whose skills had apparently been hidden by sub-par television for the longest time before being given the chance to be shown off—as Dustin said so well in his piece on The Flight Attendant.
You can check out the full AskReddit thread here, but below are some (overly white, overly male—Reddit does have its biases) highlights:
How…how could you not be a Catherine O’Hara fan?
Header Image Source: Lionsgate